May 9, 2013

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU’s Julia Reffel Named a Master Teacher of Honor

VALDOSTA — Dr. Julia M. Reffel, a professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education at Valdosta State University, was recently presented Kappa Delta Pi’s Master Teacher of Honor Award. She was recognized by the international honor society in education because of her outstanding commitment to continuous professional growth and integrity in the classroom.

Kappa Delta Pi International President Dr. Mary Clement shared, “Great teachers change lives by inspiring students to recognize their gifts and to learn to use them to pursue a worthy dream. Dr. Julia Reffel is one such teacher.” 

A member of Kappa Delta Pi and a career educator, Reffel referred to the Master Teacher of Honor Award as one of the major accomplishments of her 30 years of teaching, especially since her peers presented it to her.

Reffel earned a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Education, all in the field of special education, from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. She accepted her first teaching position in 1983, educating third graders at Weber Elementary School in Arvada, Colo., and she spent the next 14 years serving various Colorado and North Dakota schools as a special educator, consultant, and more.

Reffel joined the Valdosta State faculty in 1997 as an assistant professor in what was then referred to as the Department of Early Childhood and Reading Education. With persistence and time, she worked her way up through the ranks, serving four years as department head and four years as director of unit and program assessment for the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education. She has secured more than $1.4 million in grants for special projects, been published nearly a dozen times, and presented at conferences more than 90 times. She maintains membership in several professional associations and believes in doing her part to ensure the standards of her profession are upheld for future generations of teachers and the students whose lives they will impact.  

“I have spent half of my career in elementary schools educating students with disabilities,” she said. “Helping to impact their learning and watching them accomplish goals is very rewarding. The rest of my career, I have spent working with teacher candidates to help them be prepared to teach students. Being with them in the classroom and watching their students learn has also been a great experience. I hope that at VSU I have had a positive effect on the next generation of special education teachers.”

Reffel will retire on June 1. She plans to remain in Valdosta and active in the field of education. Along with another retired VSU faculty member, she leads a book club at the Valdosta Early College Academy for middle school students. She also works with youth at her church. Finally, she hopes to be on the sidelines at more Blazer athletic events.

“VSU and Valdosta are home,” she said.

Contact Dr. Julia M. Reffel at (229) 333-5929 or to learn more.

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